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Last week the New York Post published a cartoon that was troubling at best, given the racist attacks throughout history that have made African-Americans synonymous with monkeys. Upon seeing it, one had to immediately question whether the cartoonist was making a less than casual inference to this form of racism when, in the cartoon, the police say after shooting a chimpanzee, "now they will have to find someone else to write the stimulus bill." Being that the stimulus bill has been the first legislative victory of President Barack Obama (the first African American president) and has become synonymous with him it was not a reach to wonder whether the Post cartoonist was inferring that a monkey wrote it?
After seeing the cartoon I called upon the New York Post to clarify, to which the editorial staff responded by vehemently denying racism and in fact, they retorted that I was being an opportunist. We escalated our concerns by holding demonstrations outside of the New York Post two days in a row which were attended by Spike Lee, Judge Greg Mathis, the NAACP, and others, and by announcing that we would target advertisers and the waiver that allows the parent company of the New York Post, News Corp, to have a monopoly on media outlets in the City since they own the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, Fox 5 and UPN 9.
Within 24-hours of our mobilization, the New York Post issued a quasi-apology but we strongly felt we had to continue our efforts to shed light upon the policy issues that allow a cartoon like that to be printed in the first place. Our next step was to mobilize New York City officials and to call upon the city of New York to refrain from further advertising in the New York Post and to urge a city council hearing to review employment data in the newsrooms in New York to see determine how a newspaper could be so racially insensitive to have a cartoon green lit such as the one last Wednesday--a cartoon so racially insensitive that it calls into question the lack of diversity in newsrooms.
Our next step will be to lead a delegation to Washington, DC, to meet with FCC Commissioners regarding the challenging of the waiver that allows Rupert Murdoch and News Corp to own more than one television station and newspaper in the same city which is clearly empowering them to do racist cartoons without fear of retribution and fear of losing advertising dollars. We also began an online petition drive to gather a million signatures to bring to the FCC calling on them to have an emergency session to repeal the waivers in light of the cartoons and we urge people to go to www.nationalactionnetwork.net.